Physicochemical Control of Caribbean Coral Calcification Linked to Host and Symbiont Responses to Varying pCO2 and Temperature

Robert A. Eagle, Maxence Guillermic,Illian De Corte, Blanca Alvarez Caraveo, Colleen B. Bove, Sambuddha Misra, Louise P. Cameron, Karl D. Castillo, and Justin B. Ries


It is thought that the active physiological regulation of the chemistry of a parent fluid is an important process in the biomineralization of scleractinian corals. Biological regulation of calcification fluid pH (pHCF) and other carbonate chemistry parameters ([CO32−]CF, DICCF, and ΩCF) may be challenged by CO2 driven acidification and temperature. Here, we examine the combined influence of changing temperature and CO2 on calcifying fluid regulation in four common Caribbean coral species—Porites astreoides, Pseudodiploria strigosa, Undaria tenuifolia, and Siderastrea siderea. We utilize skeletal boron geochemistry (B/Ca and δ11B) to probe the pHCF, [CO32−]CF, and DICCF regulation in these corals, and δ13C to track changes in the sources of carbon for calcification. Temperature was found to not influence pHCF regulation across all pCO2 treatments in these corals, in contrast to recent studies on Indo-Pacific pocilloporid corals. We find that [DIC]CF is significantly lower at higher temperatures in all the corals, and that the higher temperature was associated with depletion of host energy reserves, suggesting [DIC]CF reductions may result from reduced input of respired CO2 to the DIC pool for calcification. In addition, δ13C data suggest that under high temperature and CO2 conditions, algal symbiont photosynthesis continues to influence the calcification pool and is associated with low [DIC]CF in P. strigosa and P. astreoides. In P. astreoides this effect is also associated with an increase in chlorophyll a concentration in coral tissues at higher temperatures. These observations collectively support the assertion that physicochemical control over coral calcifying fluid chemistry is coupled to host and symbiont physiological responses to environmental change, and reveals interspecific differences in the extent and nature of this coupling.

Published Work | 2022 | Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 2022, 10(8), 1075

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